Clown Doctors in NYC

The Clown Care Unit (CCU) of NYC is an amazing and animated group of people that collaborate to cheer up patients and family in hospitals throughout the New York area.  They dress up as clown doctors and strive to ease the moods and tension in families while lifting spirits and hopes in children who are often enduring life threatening hospitalization visits.  Joking with nurses and doctors helps to keep the mood light(er) in the hospitals while encouraging trust in the clinical staff that the children or parents may not fully have.  The threat of their child’s safety is often a higher focus than the possibility that someone can save them.  Although they hope for the best, their hope is masked with their doubts.  The jovial atmosphere helps to boost the moods, ease the tensions, and strengthen confidence even amongst hospital staff.

Although health care in the United States is highly biologically focused, the ethnomedical approach that the clowns bring help to add to the healing.  The mix of approaches attacks both the body and mind, encouraging patients to believe that they can be stronger and healthier, that they will be, and that they will fight for it.  The mental struggle in many patients is believed to be just as powerful as the medicine from the hospital’s biological approach.  From watching The Horse Boy, and reading about the Clowns in NYC, the unanimous discussion is that there is some aspect to believing in oneself, or outside spirits that can help boost a person’s health.  Whether the clowns are real doctors is not relevant, because the children relax, believe, and hope, which is as good as gold.

The clowns are not real doctors though in real life.  Not in the MD sense of things at least, hence making them a bit of an outcast from society.  They dress different than much of the culture.  They act silly and unconventional, and financially, they do not typically make a living that would place them in a high socioeconomic status, such as a doctor.  Although their services are loved by all (well by most) they are not looked at in a great respect by society.  They are not so much respected, nor considered credible, not even looked at as a career that many would possess, yet again, they are much appreciated, hired to make other smile and feel good, and bring an amazingly happy atmosphere to everywhere they go.

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  1. Justin Kenton says:

    The clown doctors from the Clown Care Unit (CCU) in New York City are simply great! While I was reading the paper about the clowns I couldn’t help thinking that this seems like something from a script of a movie. I mean, think about it. Clowns having silly time around a hospital and playing practical jokes on each other! I think it is a wonderful implementation of helping not just a patient’s mental state of mind, but the friends or family of the patient. These clown “doctors” may not have a medical degree, but they can be very effective at raising the spirits of the afflicted, which I believe is half of the battle of recovery. The clown care unit’s members are still similar to real doctors in some respects although. The goal or what should be the goal of all doctors is to make their patients healthy. If the clowns have such a profound impact of the mental state of well-being, then they are accomplishing what the M.D.s is also trying to accomplish. The clowns are respectable because they can truly have an impact with people and take on a mental burden themselves.

    This country stresses the biomedical to an extent that makes me a little uncomfortable and I welcome alternative forms of medicine into our hospitals, patient accepting. I feel that the use of these clowns or even a similar type of method can be justified. The article specifically points out how the presence of the clowns changes the atmosphere for the better and relieves stress even for the other medical staff in the hospital. The patients can feel empowered by the goofy presence. Taking the mind of a patient or parent, for example, off of the pain can do wonders for calming the atmosphere and I would like to see more hospitals take note of this type of work.

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